Earlier this year, Perspectivity and the Knowledge Workshop (Alwarsha) partnered to co-create, organise and deliver a writeshop workshop for women and transpeople in Lebanon; “Our Stories of Change”. The Writeshop Workshop was co-funded by the Knowledge Workshop and Perspectivity CoBudget.
The intention of the writeshop was to amplify the role of women and transpeople in shaping personal and collective changes. We wanted to open a space where a group of women and transpeople can come together, share their stories of change and build up their collective voices.
It was not easy to imagine how the workshop was going to materialize with the level of uncertainty we were facing both at the international and the local level. Yet, beyond our own expectations, we were able to successfully deliver the two and a half days writeshop workshop to a diverse group of women, transpeople and people with different gender identities.
The process was based on the Barefoot Guide Connection: “the “Writeshop” is a creative, collective and disciplined method for surfacing and writing stories and then reflecting on and learning from them to inform the future”. It is about learning to write and writing to learn that incorporates free writing and feedback rounds. As one of the participants expressed it: “We are doing things in an unconventional and in a new style … it is a process of thinking about writing”. Another shared: “I was surprised that something came up. I was able to put something on paper”.
Magic happens in the details
We chose with much care and deliberation the details of the workshop starting from where it will happen to how we set up the workshop room.
We decided to choose a place outside of Beirut that is surrounded by nature; Chtaura, a town in Bekaa, was our choice.
- We set up the room from the first day with vases (also from The Netherlands) and flowers (bought from a local flower shop). At the end of the workshop, we asked the participants to choose their favorite flower and informed them that it is our farewell gift to them.
- The check-in exercises were based on interacting with nature. E.g.: a silent walk in the near by forest.
- We arranged a goodies bag for each participant that included local, recycled and socially- conscious goodies such as Keess bag, H2Go water bottle, btdt notebook. In addition to Tony’s Chocolonely all the way from The Netherlands.
- KW invited the group and the team for a traditional Lebanese dinner in a famous restaurant in the area.
By the third day, and after the intensive process, feeling tired was very natural. Yet, we, the team and the group, listened to each others needs. As a result, we were able to continue and complete the process. It is best expressed by one of the participants when she said: “Everyone held each other”. Together with the participants, we were able indeed to open and hold a space of connection, togetherness and intellectual value. A space of change.
KW and Perspectivity in collaboration with the participants will be working together to translate and publish the stories written in the near future. We are currently in the process of selecting, editing and finding the right publishing medium.
It is one of the those events that can’t be fully grasped until experienced as Lisette Gast said. So, it is best to leave it to the participants’ quotes to speak about it:
“The format was beautiful and the flow was smooth”
“I felt, I was close to every story even though I did not find myself in it”
“Each woman left a trace in me”
“There was really interesting, intimate and close vibes”
“I lost my harsh, self-criticism”
- Contact Lisette Gast or Nohad El Hajj.